PHOTO FINISH: Troy Merritt Wins a Million Bucks and Keeps His Job
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Troy Merritt: Picture perfect!

In the immortal words of Walt Disney, “All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” Indeed, just ask Troy Merritt, who lived a few of his on Sunday evening at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. At the beginning of the day, Merritt’s job and a million dollars were both on the line. With most the day filled with uncertainty, Merritt finished on the number at No. 125 on the money list to keep fully-exempt status on the PGA Tour for 2011, and then he won a three-way playoff with Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley to take the Kodak Challenge prize.

The three replayed the 17th hole, this week’s Kodak Challenge hole. Merritt knocked his 133-yard approach to tap-in range. Clutch! Fowler had a long lag to extend the playoff to another hole, and he hit a great putt, but it just slid by. After Baddeley missed his birdie attempt, Merritt made his with ease.

What a day for Merritt. ”I wouldn’t say it was a stress-free day,” he said. ”It certainly was a nice ending.”

How’s he going to spend his new wealth? First, he’s going to buy his wife a new car, a Lexus SUV, and then he’s going to give his caddie his share before putting the rest in the bank.

With all the craziness going down for the race to finish in the top 125 on the money list, Merritt’s fate was sealed in the performance of other players, most notably Johnson Wagner. As Merritt said in an interview, “My future’s kind of in Johnson’s hands.” Wagner double-bogeyed the 16th and ended up finishing 126th on the money list. While I’m sure Merritt wasn’t rooting for Wagner to fail, he probably also wasn’t too disappointed.

(Photo by Goodman/Getty Images)